Dear B from UPC/NTL/Chorus,
Thanks so much for all the calls. You called twice on Tuesday, leaving a message on my mobile and my landline, and twice again on Thursday. You might have wondered why you bothered. Did I really gave a damn?
By way of explanation, let’s pretend our screens are going all wavy and wobbly as we drift in time, all the way back to February, when the Snapper found she couldn’t access her Eircom email.
Eircom advised that the problem lay with our Internet Service Provider, which is you NTL/Chorus/UPC guys.
She asked me to help. I couldn’t face phoning your technical support, because I didn’t want to spend hours sorting the problem. I just wanted a simple explanation; either a ‘Do this!’ or ‘Forget it and start again!’ type of response, so on April 27th I sent an email to NTL Broadband Support, asking what a ‘parsing error’ meant to the average bloke? Why was it blocking the wife’s email and what could I do about it?
Instantly I received your automated response:
‘Your query has been given a unique tracking number for your reference - 452724. Our aim is to contact you within 2 working days.’
Customer Support Team Chorus NTL
On May 8th, just as I was about to give up on your support, one of your colleagues sent an email:
Dear Mr Adley
Thank you for your email, my sincere apologies for the delay in getting back to you. If possible, can you please provide your account number so I can escalate your details to our Technical Support Desk?
If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on our freephone number 1908 or email us on
I didn’t want my details escalated, but naturally I sent off the information she requested, and immediately got yet another automated response: Your query has been given a unique tracking number for your reference - 461272. Our aim is to contact you within 2 working days.
Now I'm getting slightly confused, because I’d been given two unique tracking numbers for one problem. And having actually made contact (albeit by email) with a real human being (herself ‘S’) was my query now back out wandering, lonely and helpless in the NTL Support wilderness?
But no. S came through, thanked me for the details and referenced Ref: 461272, which was the latest most recent number.
Aha! So that’s how it works! The unique tracking number is killed off by the next unique tracking number.
Sometimes it’s terrible having testicles. You’re forced to try and understand everything, even the most boring trifling detail which ovary-bearers quite correctly might dismiss as surplus to requirements.
S said she had “passed your query to our Broadband Support Team for investigation and a member of their team will be in contact with you shortly. Thank you for your valued custom.”
Thanks S, I think, but - and call me stupid here if you must - I’d dared to think that I was already dealing with the Broadband Support Team, because all my emails had been addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, that was May 8th, and then I head nothing. Nada. Zilch and diddly squat. I started to come over all agitato jubilato. This was no longer about the Snapper’s email account, which doubtless had by now been deactivated through lack of use.
Now it had become personal. We’ve paid a tidy amount to Chorus/NTL/UPC over the years, and this is the first time we’ve ever asked for help, yet after 2 months all we’ve been given is a rake of reference numbers and emails telling us how much they value our custom and we’ll hear from them in two days.
When I decide to write about a person or a corporation, I feel it only fair to let them know, especially if it’s part of an existing problem, so on June 3rd, I sent off an email referencing all my reference numbers, saying how I was intending to write about this process, and in the meantime, what was going on with my query?
Obviously, the first thing I got was another pesky automated response, assigning me another bloomin’ unique tracking number
“Our aim is to contact you within 2 working days.”
Which unique tracking number was I now? 452724? 480639? 461272?
The following Saturday morning, my mobile phone rings, and it’s you, B from UPC, and you’re very upset about all my troubles. You are delightful, telling me you don’t really understand computers yourself, but if we set up a time to call, you could patch me though to the technical support team, without me having to wait.
‘Splendid! Fantastic! Are you really calling me on a Saturday? Wow! Lets make it Monday at 11:00. Is that okay? Great, Monday it is then.’
Within minutes I receive your email, B, confirming our arrangement that you will call me on Monday at 11. I send you one back to thank you and yes, get another automated response and another unique tracking number.
If UPC Support is a lottery, I’ve got so many numbers in it, I must be a winner soon!
On Monday I rush around before 11 o’clock, at which time I am to be found sitting at my computer, mobile phone charged and ready to take your call. I sit and wait. And wait and wait and wait, but no call comes.
My heart sinks. I wanted to sort my wife’s email, and then, very importantly, I wanted to ask you, B, why our newly-installed NTL/UPC/Chorus Digital TV box keeps turning itself off, for hours on end? I wanted to ask you why it came fitted with a two-pin plug? Do we live in Greece? Is it even legal to sell a two-pin plug on appliances this country? More to the point, with the inbuilt protector on modern 3-pin sockets, extracting two-pin plugs is tricky at best, but we have to keep doing it to reboot the bloomin’ Digi-tv-box. It feels unsafe.
But B, you didn’t call.
Well, you did, on Tuesday and Thursday, when I was out and busy. Now I lack the energy to deal with NTL/UPC/Chorus anymore. What a shame. All their kind regards, and reference numbers made me feel unique for two nano seconds.